A leather, card and wood Portable B.C.D. Board by John Jaques.
B.C.D. stands for Backgammon, Chess and Draughts as the travelling set provides all 3 games. Jaques is a name synonymous with chess and they developed the famous Staunton pattern design with Nathaniel Cooke. It was named after the first British chess World Champion, Howard Staunton. They are also the world’s oldest sports manufacture still in existence with the company founded in 1795. Jaques added to their reputation for innovation with the design of this Portable Games Set, which they patented on June 10, 1858. The illustrated patent from the London Public Records Office can be viewed on page 185 of British Campaign Furniture by Nicholas Brawer.
The set consist of boxwood and ebony counters which are turned to the one side for backgammon and draughts and set with a composition two-dimensional chess piece to the other. These are used on a two-sided leather board which has flat metal bars inset to the edges for rigidity. For travel the pieces, along with the two dice, are housed in a leather tube. The board is then folded in half and wrapped around the tube to be held in place by the two leather dice cups. The whole can then be pushed inside the leather edged, canvas on card outer tube. It’s probable that each end of the outer tube originally had a band fitted to it to contain the contents during travel.
The compromise for portability on these sets was the use of thin leather to the board to allow it to easily roll. It was strengthened by the metal bars to either end but still it is common for those sets that have survived to have damage to the leather. This set is no exception and there are a number of holes to the leather, especially to the edges. Some of the composition used to make the chess pieces has also broken away. Two red pawns are part missing and some of the other pieces have the odd minor chip. All pieces are recognizable though. Added to this, the numbers from the bone dice are completely worn. The set is decorated with gilt tooling to the counters tube, dice tumblers and the board.
These sets are hard to find but an ingenious example of the Victorians’ desire to improve and innovate on what had gone before. Circa 1870.
Tube size given.